Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Bog Off - Exhibit 30 Starbucks Special!

This is an extra special Starbucks themed BogOff sent in by  BogOff fan Arienette. The photos feature the Woolwich branch of Starbucks in SE London, but BSS is also pleased to report a Starbucks BogOff twitter special.

Recently a fellow tweeter @trufflepotamus visited her local Starbucks, in Norwich, @trufflepotamus has some mobility issues but is not overtly visibly disabled. Whilst she was there she asked to use the disabled toilet as walking upstairs is difficult, tiring and painful. She was refused access to the disabled toilet by a staff member who informed her that the disabled toilet was only to be used by customers in wheelchairs.

Starbucks are one of the biggest companies to have adopted the use of social media. So, as soon as I heard about @trufflepotamus's experience I tweeted @Starbucks to inform them. To their credit a response was swift, with an immediate apology and assurances to investigate. Before long the managing director of Starbucks UK, Darcy Wilson-Rymer had tweeted his apology and asked for contact details so Starbucks could investigate. That was followed up by an email from Starbucks customer services team also apologising and promising to put right the problem. Starbucks contacted @trufflepotamus directly to ascertain the details and have reassured her that the official Starbucks policy is "just say yes" to any customer who requests to use the disabled toilet. They have also assured @trufflepotamus that they will provide retraining to the staff at the Norwich branch so they are all clear about this policy and have sent her a Starbucks card so she can return and enjoy the facilities on them.

Starbucks have led the way here and set an example to other companies about how social media can allow them to engage with their customers and help the company address issues promptly. It is fantastic to see that Starbucks immediately apologised and promised to do better, a stark contrast to experiences disabled people such as myself have had when dealing with other large companies such as Wetherspoons

Whilst I'd like to congratulate Starbucks and give them full marks for their behaviour over this incident I'd also like to take the opportunity to let them know there are issues with disability access and awareness in their other branches, such as this BogOff taken by BogOff fan Arienette  at the Woolwich branch of Starbucks in South East London. Will Starbucks UK lead the way and receive the first company wide Bog of Beauty award for their disabled toilets? I do hope so...

View of disabled toilet with grab rails to right and left. Emergency alarm cord is tied up away from the floor around one grab rail. The bins are obstructing the transfer area.

"There were some very good and very bad points about this toilet which is in the Woolwich branch of Starbucks in south east London.

The toilet is down a fairly narrow hallway. If you had anything other than a standard sized wheelchair and standard sized arms, you'd be in a tight spot. The door is also difficult to manouver with a pushchair and weakling arms, so I'm assuming it would be very difficult with a wheelchair.

The room is well lit but not blinding. It was clean, there was no debris on the floor and it didn't smell of anything, although it didn't smell pleasant, either. Actually thats just how I like my bogs, the overwhelming smell of fresheners or bleach can make me faint.

There's a baby-change (isn't there always? Well, no, actually, the disabled toilet in the Starbucks on Southamptom Row had nothing and I had to change the baby on the toilet lid. It was awesome. Not.) but it doesn't stick out too far when folded up, which is good, because the room itself is obviously built to minimum size standards. Again, if you had anything other than a standard size wheelchair you'd be in trouble.
Close up view of alarm cord tied firmly to grab rail and impossible to reach from the floor

Emergency Cord tied up out of the way, as always (I untied it, although have little hope that it will remain that way),  and the bins were in the way of the transfer area.
View of mirror at standard height above sink with adjacent grab rail

However, there were two mirrors. One at 'normal' height above the sink, and one lower down, perfectly positioned for wheelchair height.  However, again, in a larger wheelchair you may have to bend out to apply your lipgloss, because the mirror is tucked away in the corner.
View of wheelchair height mirror next to hand dryer at angle showing it would be difficult to see into from a wheelchair

All in all, a mixed bag. Better than most, but still falling short of the ideal. And really, why should a realistically usable disabled toilet be 'the ideal'?"

Thanks to Starbucks UK, @trufflepotamus and Arienette for this extra special BogOff - the disabled and parent/child users of your accessible facilities look forward to a positive response once more!  


Helly Copeland said...

Oooh I do like your #bogoff posts... Its amazing how many emergency chords are tucked away or wrapped around the grabrails...

Think I'm gonna have to start taking some pics for your #bogoff

Well done to Starbucks for having a clean floor... There is nothing worse than the worry of slipping over, either through a messy floor, or indeed onto a messy floor (ewww)

Emma said...

I always complain when alarm cords are tied up or otherwise not loose (local theatre has it pinned to the wall). I could untie it myself but I figure raising it makes the point

Arienette said...

Emma: To my shame, I always MEAN to say something, to march up to them and inform them that they're breaking the rules, but I have to admit to just being far far far too shy. Whenever I see a tied up cord, if I can manage to undo it, I do, but I have yet to alert staff to the reason why I've done it. Something to work on...

Robin said...

Hurrah! You reminded me to send my letter of complaint to Pret about their accessible loo in South Kensington.